Religion did and does not only work as the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. Religion also took and takes painstaking care that ever new souls begin to exist under soulless conditions.
In irreligious times and places philosophy takes over as the brain of religion, covertly arguing in favour of mankind’s perpetuation.
For abvious ontic reasons nobody wanted to begin to exist and no one wanted not to begin to exist. This is a constellation which we may dope the nativistic stalemate. Nobody is “forced” into existence – as some antinatalists have it – and nobody is deprived of existence as some pronatalists put forth. However, every person exists at the behest of other persons. People do not initiate their own existence. Our sheer existence does not fall into our own responsibility.
Even if some parents consider their offspring as a misfortune the state will usually not do so. As evinces from the upheaval that is made once somebody wants to commit suicide, most states care about their people’s pure existence – even though they may not care at all about their people’s suchness and well-being and will have the elderly fade away in gerontocamps under conditions which beggar description. Resting upon their constituting individuals and being therefore generally opposed to people who favour withdrawal from existence (or antinatalism) states want their populace to exist at all cost. It seems, therefore, reasonable that the state as the comprehensive natalist should grant an unconditional basic income to everyone.
‘Missed You?’ might be a good idea for a song to listen to, but read for yourself:
“Look back also and see how the ages of everlasting time past before we were born have been to us nothing.” (Lucretius, as quoted yesterday)
Had our parents not acted in such a way that we eventually began to exist, we wouldn’t have missed ourselves. Nor would anybody.
Make an ethical argument out of this: If NOBODY acts in such a way that someone eventually begins to exist, there will be no one there who would be left out. There are no selves out there on whose behalf we are to procreate.
The foundations for this insight are old. Lucretius is one of its philosophical harbingers.
respice item quam nil ad nos ante acta vetustas temporis aeterni fuerit,
quam nascimur ante.
hoc igitur speculum nobis natura futuri temporis exponit post mortem denique nostram.
numquid ibi horribile apparet?
num triste videtur quicquam?
non omni somno securius exstat?
(Lucretius, De rerum natura)
Look back also and see how the ages of everlasting time past before we were born have been to us nothing. This therefore is a mirror which nature holds up to us, showing the time to come after we at length shall die. Is there anything horrible in that? Is there anything gloomy? Is it not more peaceful than any sleep?
We would rejoice at the disvovery of extraterrestrial (intelligent) life, wouldn’t we? Wait a minute, the circumspect antinatalist will tell us. Rather than jubilate we should feel sorrow. Why? Well, because other life forms, however alien they may be, will be in need of some kind of conscious alert system to prevent the single living beings from self destruction. Alien living beings, strange though they may be, will be able to feel what we call pain. This is the reason why the full grown antinatalist will not jubilate at incoming radio signals from Alpha Centauri or other regions of space and time.
Ever more inhabitable planets that are being discovered are a strong indicator that there will be much more suffering out there in space than people were generally inclined to assume only a few decades ago.
For more see “Should Extraterrestrials Exist?” (Sollen Außerirdische sein?, chapter 15 of my book ALIEN INTRODUCTION INTO PHILOSOPHY / AUSSERIRDISCHE EINLEITUNG IN DIE PHILOSOPHIE, 2002).
When children’s carefree laughter receives a lot of attention this is, of course, also due to the fact that grown up people know innermost it’ll come to an end shortly: Laughter will be siphoned away by the vicissitudes of life.
If parents are well aware that carefree laughter (not general laughter) will end soon and are, thus, familiar with the human condition: why did they start their children’s existence in the first place?
It looks like we can learn from other movements, first and foremost perhaps from the vegetarian movement. Similar to antinatalism the vegetarian movement faces the question of how to make people change decisions that are tightly knit to causing animal (and human) suffering. Similar to parents who like to “have” children, carnivors like to “eat” meat, thus causing the coming into being of ever new myriads of sentient animals.
There might be two major fractions between vegetarians. Members of group A maintain a low profile, they do not try to convince people, they rather try to live on quietly as a still role model. Members of group B, however, act differently: They show around shocking and reproaching pictures from the meat industry that, as a matter of fact, are directly linked to consumer demand. Group B confronts meat eaters with the gruel outcome of their decisions.
One gets the impression that group B is way more successful than group B when it comes to making people change revise their decisions. Therefore, in order to make people change their pronatalist decisions one should make them drastically aware of the consequences by presenting real pictures and by telling real storys. Pictures and stories from illnesses and old age homes for example. But who has what it takes in order to accost pronatal people in such a way?
What counts is not only the antinatalist mätopia – a world without sentient beings prone to feel pain – but rather to argue in favour of a revision of pronatal decisions. Contributing to the revision of as many pronatal decisions as possible is at the heart of antinatalist moral theory and practical antinatalist ethics.
Everybody has an idea of utopia. By analogy and against the background of antinatalism and certain forms of nihilism one should also speak of mätopia with non-existence as its ideal (‘mä’ being tantamount to ‘not, non’ in ancient Greek).